Protein after workout: Myth or Reality?? | Nutrition for Gamers


Hello hello today I wanted to review an “article” or “viewpoint” from JOSPT going over the popular topic of when we should ingest protein. This article reviews the current literature around the idea of  nutrient timing and whether or not there is truly this “anabolic window” for us to consume protein. Basically I hope that by the end of this review both you and I will know more clearly whether or not it is necessary for us to eat protein within the one hour window after our workout.

Nutrient Timing: What is it? | When to eat for gamers

Nutrient Timing “theory” when it comes to muscle building is the idea that we should be eating proper nutrients during a specific time-frame which promotes an additional benefits to muscle building (or what we call hypertrophic adaptations). Some researchers suggest if you do not eat within this window (which is typically within one hour after your training)

A little background

The reason why this theory exists is due to early studies which have shown that muscle protein synthesis (MPS) increased when amino acids were taken immediately after workout compared to delayed ingestion. This study was repeated several times showing immediate ingestion of protein (60 minutes) with 10P/8C/3F spiked the MPS 3-fold compared to 3 hours after exercise (It is important to note the exercise was moderate-intensity cycling as it can create different anabolic response for our body compared to resistance training).

So naturally we need to understand then how nutrient timing affects MPS with resistance training. According to the author and the current body of evidence there are mixed results with post workout nutrition. A study done by Rasmussen showed 1 hour vs. 3 hours following a high-volume bout of leg press and leg extension led to the same ~400% elevation of MPS while another one done by Tipton et al. demonstrated PREworkout consumption increased MPS . There are a few more studies this article lists which highlight the conflicting nature of the findings relating to nutrient timing.

Muscle building is more than just immediate changes | Muscle Growth for gamers

What we’ve established so far is that the current body of evidence is quite unclear when it comes to consumption of protein anytime around the workout. All we know is that we need to ingest protein around the time of our workout – which is typically what I suggest to my athletes.

What the author and its respective research lab went on to evaluate was how ingestion of protein might affect LONGER-TERM changes in hypertrophy and muscle building. They again mentioned the current body of evidence being equivocal: some show benefit to immediate congestion while others do not. So what the authors did was perform their own meta analysis of the research out there and from 23 studies comprising 525 participants along with meeting their criteria found the following

  1. While nutrient timing within 1 hour conferred a small but statistically significant benefit to muscle hypertrophy – the more important conclusion was the consumption of any protein at all. Many if not all of the studies utilized a placebo in the form of carbohydrates. When they broke it down, there was a difference of 1.7g/kg consumed vs. 1/3 g/kg consumed in the experimental vs control conditions. So even with the slight benefit to muscle hypertrophy the difference in protein was likely the explanation for the hypertrophy difference.

In addition to performing this meta analysis the author’s research lab went onto perform their own experiment comparing

A: 25 g protein immediately before total body resistance training

B: 25 g protein immediately after total body resistance training

Both groups were to refrain from eating 3 hours prior to avoid any confounding results from pre-exercise nutrition. This study was performed over 10 weeks and showed there was no difference between measures of hypertrophy between the two groups. This is also something I experienced repeatedly with the clients and athletes I work with.

I see no difference with muscle hypertrophy when protein is consumed before or after your workout. And my belief is that even though it may provide some slight benefit – practicality and buy-in to a disciplined practice is more important to achieve with your athletes.

Final Thoughts and Key Points | Gaming and Nutrition

The key points listed by this article are as follows

  1. Consuming protein post exercise is important for muscular adaptations, but the “window of opportunity” is not as narrow as previously proposed, as muscles are sensitized to protein intake for at least 24 hours after a training bout.
  2. The immediacy for postexercise protein consumption will depend on the timing of the preworkout meal. The closer the proximity of the meal to the training bout, the less the need for immediate postworkout protein intake; if training fasted, expeditious refueling  with high-quality protein is beneficial
  3. To maximize muscle hypertrophy consume high-quality protein (at a dose of approximately 0.4-0.5g/kg of lean body mass) both pre-exercise and post-exercise within about 4 to 6 hours of each other, depending on meal size

The bottom line is have 20-25 g of protein around when you workout and at least another meal with >25 g of protein to maximize your muscle growth.

Look out for our next article review coming out soon!



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